This recipe is based on an old Bologna recipe used at SPiN Toronto when we opened. By adding some Cubed Pork Fat, Pistachios, and changing up the spices, the same techniques is used to make this rustic take on the Italian classic… Mortadella di Bologna.
This recipe should be easy enough for anyone to make at home. Potential pitfalls have been identified and home cook alternatives have been highlighted. You should be able to knock this recipe out over a weekend. Although it takes a few days to produce, it’s all worth it when you’re snacking on your own homemade cold cuts, made from choice cuts of the right pork.
A note on ingredients:
- Mortadella is usually made from scraps, or throw away cuts. This recipe provides the unique opportunity to make it with better cuts of meat. Ask your butcher to grind you some pork shoulder. It’s not an expensive cut and you’ll really enjoy the flavour and texture that your meat lends to the final product. Locally farmed meat is always superior to factory farmed. Try and source something local if you can, you’ll really notice a difference.
- Instacure #1 is a curing salt(additive) used to promote a pleasant pink colour and provide a unique salinity to deli meats. It’s what gives Corned Beef, Salami, and Bacon their pinkish colour. Although this recipe can be made without, don’t expect the same seasoned, ‘bacony’ flavour or the pink colour. It can be tough to track down. Try asking your butcher, if they can’t/won’t sell you any. It can be found online at SausageMaker.com.
- Caraway seeds aren’t always in the spice aisle at the grocery store. Try a baking supply store, or a bakery that bakes their own rye breads. If not, try a spice market, or bulk food store. They can be omitted and replaced with another spice(i.e. cumin or fennel seed).
A note on equipment:
- In most professional kitchens, spices are ground with either small electric coffee grinders, or a mortar and pestle. Either will work in order to grind your spices, but I’d suggest picking up an electric coffee grinder for $10-20 at a home-wares store. You will get lots of use out of them in grinding your own black peppercorns. Once you’ve gone fresh ground, you’ll never go back.
- A sausage stuffer isn’t required to make this sausage. As you’ll see in the photographs, instructions are provided on how to use plastic wrap to make your own sausage casing. Only pick one up if you think sausage making is about to become your new hobby.
- ‘High Barrier Casings‘ are synthetic sausage casings that will withstand the higher temperatures required to cook this sausage. Only necessary is you’re interested in making a product that looks to be of a professional caliber. The end product will taste the same.
- You’ll notice the ingredients are listed by weight. This is promote higher accuracy. For example, a tablespoon of table salt weight more than a tablespoon of kosher salt. You will need a kitchen scale. Small ones aren’t very expensive. You’ll get a lot of use from one if you bake. Try Amazon.
- Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart both make great quality mixers and food processors. You will require both a mixer and a food processor for this recipe.
1850g Ground Pork Shoulder
250g Ground Pork Fat
250g Cubed Pork Fat (blanched in salted boiling water for 1 minute and shocked in ice water and kept refrigerated)
10g InstaCure #1
4g Whole Black Pepper
3g Whole White Pepper
1.5g Whole Nutmeg
1g Whole Caraway Seed
1g Whole Clove
1g Whole Cinnamon
10g Minced Garlic
125g Shelled, Whole Pistachios
A Thumb Tack
Cotton Butcher’s Twine
Extra Large Freezer Bags
1. Assemble all ingredients, taking care to keep the meat and fat cool. They will both need to be kept below 15 degrees Celsius the entire time. If you’re not sure, chill the meat for 15-20 minutes. You want everything cold. Fill your mixing bowl with ice water and store it in the fridge until you need it.
3. Pour out the ice from your mixer bowl (keep the ice, you will need it again). Combine the ground pork, the ground pork fat, the curing salt, the kosher salt, the garlic and the spices. Mixed on medium speed for 3 minutes to ensure everything is well incorporated.
4. Remove the mix from the mixer and chill for 30-60 minutes. Replace the ice in the mixer bowl. You will need the mixer again and you’ll want it cool.
5. Working in small batches(around 1/4 at a time), puree the mixture in a food processor. Add small amounts of ice water to lubricate the meat. Only add as much is needed to keep the meat moving to get a good, smooth purée. The processor will heat the product while it processes. Keep this is in mind. Work quickly, and don’t over work the meat. It needs to stay cool(below 10-12 degrees) to maintain a smooth emulation of fat and meat.
(Here is the texture you are looking for, smooth and well blended.)
6. Place the meat back into the chilled mixing bowl. Add the Cubed Fat and Pistachios. Mix them in on low for 2 minutes.
(Check the temperature periodically to ensure it is nice and cool.)
7.a) Now time to stuff your sausage. If you are using a sausage stuffer go to step 7 b). If using plastic wrap, lay out 2 feet of wrap. Lay on another 5 layers on top of it, each time making sure to remove the air between layers. Lay out a log of filling, you are aiming for a 5cm diameter tube. Work on each sausage individually. Refrigerate the remaining filling.
Roll up your tube as tightly as possible. Try and keep it as air-free as you can. With a 60cm piece of string, tie a butcher’s knot at one end, then the other end with another long piece of string.
Using a Pin or thumb tack, prick the sausage all over. Aim for at least 2 holes per square cm. Lots of holes.
Now, using the length of the string, wrap the sausage tighter and tighter. The holes you have made in the plastic will allow excess air to escape. Once you have tightened both ends, tie them off. It should feel very tight, light an inflated bike tire.
Here is the finished sausage.
7 b) If you’re using sausage casings, remove them from the water. Fill your sausage stuffer, which you have cleaned and chilled. Thread on the casings and fill them taking care to fill with as little air as possible.
Using a long piece of twine, seal the end. Tighten as per step 7 a). Prick many, many holes using a thumb tack.
8. Chill your sausages overnight. This will allow the curing salt to get to work and let the flavours mellow.
9. It’s time to cook your sausages. The goal is to get an internal temperature of 60C without going over. The best way to do this is in a Sous Vide setup
or using the old low heat/thermometer/ice method. Place your sausages into freezer bags, removing as much air as possible using one of the methods found here. Once you have your bags sealed without any air. Check out this video on stove top sous vide cooking
10. Cook your sausages as close to 60C as possible for 3 hours. Then chill them overnight before cutting into them. All that’s left to do is slice, serve and enjoy!
A big thank you and credit to Sarah Hams (my lovely wife), for the excellent photography.
If you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments below. Please give it a try, you’ll love the results!
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